On Air: Boat Buying Impacted by Supply Chain Issues
Great Lakes Boating & Marine Trades - News

Dave White, New York Sea Grant, Recreation and Tourism Specialist, P: 315-312- 3042, E: dgw9@cornell.edu

Oswego, NY, April 19, 2022 - According to New York Sea Grant Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist Dave White, "People are having a hard time buying boats right now because like other industries, supply chain issues have impacted them."

White spoke with WDOE News Director Dave Rowley about this and other boating topics during this recent visit. 

WDOE 1040 AM / 94.9 FM's "Viewpoint" program, which is broadcast in the greater Syracuse and Oswego regions. 

Viewpoint airs on WDOE Monday through Friday at 8:45am. Dave Rowley has been handling the hosting duties for more than 20 years, interviewing local, county and state elected officials. Community groups are also featured on the 15-minute live interview show. Listeners email their questions to Dave, who includes those inquires in the interviews.

You can also listen to the entire "Viewpoint" program featuring Dave White of New York Sea Grant ...

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Full Transcript: 

Speaker1: [00:00:00] It's time for breakfast with Meeders and Viewpoint. Start your day off right with a delicious breakfast at Meeders restaurant in Ripley. Here's your host, Dave Rowley.

Speaker2: [00:00:09] Well, on this morning's Viewpoint, the Interview we have New York Sea Grant, coastal recreation and tourism specialist Dave White on our lifeline. Dave, welcome to the program.

Speaker3: [00:00:24] Well, thank you and good morning on this beautiful 85 degree sunny day.

Speaker2: [00:00:29] Yeah, [00:00:30] right. What? Binghamton had ten inches of snow and still counting, I guess.

Speaker3: [00:00:36] Yeah. Yeah. As I'm sitting here looking out of my office window, we're only at about three or four. Wow. All the schools in central New York are closed. And I spent 8 hours driving through it yesterday, coming back from the Easter holiday because I drove up from Virginia. So I knew what we were getting last night because I drove through it for about 8 hours yesterday.

Speaker2: [00:00:57] And Dave, I got to tell you, here in Dunkirk, [00:01:00] we have green grass.

Speaker3: [00:01:04] Thanks. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate that Dave.

Speaker2: [00:01:07] Yeah, well, I'll tell you, we're here today to talk a little bit about the marine industry job opportunities. As the boats boating season gets underway here within the next few weeks. And like so many other industries, there are a lot of job [00:01:30] openings. Right Dave?

Speaker3: [00:01:32] There really are. And, I love that you're using the word marine industry because we've really tried to work with, you know, the organized marine trades groups, you know, boat sales and service on water marinas and others, that they really are a very solid component of our recreation, tourism business in the communities along all of our lakes and rivers. And, a lot of folks have not thought about that as a potential job career, but there are huge opportunities for job [00:02:00] careers for those folks that have, you know, high school diplomas, you know, BOCES, you know, certificates that they've gotten two year college degrees. I mean, the opportunity is really endless when you think about all that. When you look at boats and sales and service and on water, marinas, all of the different jobs they have and they are all available in large numbers like all of the other industries in the region.

Speaker2: [00:02:25] Dave, has the pandemic influenced [00:02:30] opportunity in actually leading to many of these job openings?

Speaker3: [00:02:38] It really has. You know, we've talked before about the fact that, you know, as we went into Covid two years ago, a lot of folks realized that boating, you know, whether you're out in a kayak, canoe or sailboat, powerboat, pontoon, whatever you might be in, really grew. I mean, you know, people are having a hard time buying boats right now because like other industries, you know, supply chain issues have impacted them. But all those folks [00:03:00] that have bought boats are getting there in the Marina. I mean, marinas are full. I mean, you know, you're on a waiting list in some cases, depending on the marina you want to be at. I mean, you go down on a weekend, Saturday, Sunday, the boat launch ramp, parking lots are full. So, you know, the folks that are in, you know, the sales business trying to get those boats out the door, folks that are in the service component industry of it, you know, they're, you know, boats break down like cars break down. So we've got to get them repaired. We've got to get oil changes, you know, and then, you know, out of water, marinas, you know, keeping the docks in good condition, [00:03:30] you know, keeping all the utilities working with them. So, you know, all of those aspects have really grown exponentially because of our love of boating and our love to get out on the waterway.

Speaker2: [00:03:40] So how many jobs does the marine industry support?

Speaker3: [00:03:46] You know, depending on where you are, obviously. But if you just look around, we are talking thousands of jobs in the western New York region supported by the Marine trades industries because, again, just as you're driving along, you know, if you're driving down near Chautauqua [00:04:00] Lake, you're up near Lake Erie, you're up near the Buffalo River. You're not only seeing marinas that are down on the water, but you're also, you know, driving by the boat sales and service that might be a dry land, boat sale and service, you know, and all those folks that are supporting that industry you're driving by. So when you begin to add them up, we're talking a very large industry and I've gone on record with others as I've been chatting with folks to say, you know, everybody listening to us right now, you know, I can almost guarantee within ten miles of their house, you know, depending on where [00:04:30] they live, that they could get a job tomorrow in the marine industry. Because, you know, there's a lot of entry level jobs right now. They're really looking for folks that have, you know, service credentials. And, you know, you have to think outside the box a little bit that if you've gone to a local technical school and have a small engine repair, you know, a boat engine is basically a larger version of a small engine, if you will. And the inboard outboard boats, people don't realize the inboard component many times is a auto engine, Chevy block engine,s [00:05:00] Ford block, you know, my Volvo Penta Drive has a Chevy Block engine on the inboard component of it. So, you know, folks out there that have degrees in automotive, you've got a degree in auto sales and service, you know, those those all completely translate over to the marine industry. And, you know, the industry is providing good starting salaries, they're providing benefits, and they are year round. A lot of folks think it's just, you know, six months and done. You know, these jobs are year round, very solid jobs in our communities.

Speaker2: [00:05:29] Yeah. [00:05:30] And I was going to ask you about just how good these jobs are, but it sounds like they're very competitive with other jobs in the area.

Speaker3: [00:05:41] Well, and they have to be because they're looking for the same student. I mean, that student that's coming out with, you know, an auto mechanic, you know, degree or certificate, you know, that's the person that the marine industry is looking for. You know, I was at a facility the other day chatting with a couple of the folks. And, you know, these are employees that [00:06:00] are operating hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment, you know, and so they get on on the job training with OSHA training to operate the forklift. If it's a dry stack facility, you're using a negative lift fork to lift up to a 30 foot boat from 30 feet in the air. You know, you're using the travel lift to move, you know, boats that are in excess of 35, 40 feet around the yard and get them launched. So the industry is also ready to put an investment in good employees and get them certified with their OSHA training, forklift [00:06:30] training and all those things that they would need on site, depending on the facility you're at. And also if you're looking for, you know, the alternative job, because a lot of our on water marinas are year round opportunities, but they also are very diverse. They have swimming pools, they have restaurants, some of them have lodging on site. So, you know, it really is an open ended industry, an opportunity for folks to be thinking about, to say, hey, this could be a really interesting career path to look at.

Speaker2: [00:06:56] And I was also going to ask, [00:07:00] is this a field that is growing?

Speaker3: [00:07:05] Absolutely. And the nice thing is it's growing up here. But you know, what really is growing, I think, is people's understanding of it. You know, and I think back to when I was in high school and I'm you know, I'm one of those kids that when I was going to go and I know they changed the terms on us. But, you know, when I was going to go to BOCES, I had to convince my parents and others that there was a really good opportunity for me, you know, so I'm a product of the BOCES system and I have a lot of friends that, you know, have come out of that and, you know, back in the day have gone [00:07:30] into these types of careers. So it is really growing exponentially and not only here in New York, but, you know, our partners right down in Pennsylvania, you know, and across the Great Lakes and other areas, they're all looking for these kind of folks. And the nice thing is we have the jobs right here. So, you know, if some of our great students that are coming out from, you know, our local community college, you know, coming up from our local high school and BOCES Center, some of our great technical schools right here in western New York. We have jobs right here for them. And that's what's really exciting [00:08:00] is the jobs are here, the opportunity is there. And, you know, the industry is really looking and, you know, if you're interested, I really encourage it. You know, obviously go online to any one of the job employment sites. But also, if you're in an area, stop down to one of the great facilities, you know, like Chautauqua Lake, Lake Erie, and just go in and say, hey, you know, I really am interested in potentially working here within the marine industry, you know, do you have anything for me? And if they don't, they probably know a neighbor business that does.

Speaker2: [00:08:28] Now, are are there some [00:08:30] ways we have parents and grandparents that listen to this program. Are there way ways that their children can prepare for a career like this?

Speaker3: [00:08:45] Absolutely. And I don't say this to disparage anybody because I would be the same myself as as a parent or grandparent. You have to realize this is truly an industry. You know, back in the day, a lot of folks looked at it, oh, it's the mom and pop. You're only going to get a job for four or five months and then you're going to go on unemployment. That is not the case [00:09:00] at all. So it's a little bit of a mindset for those of us that are a little grayer in the hair that we really need to change our concept. This is really a marine industry. And, you know, if you're if you're you're looking at you're working with your child, your grandchild, and thinking about what might you want to do, you know, a technical program, you know, to to look at some of those kind of opportunities in some areas of the state, we're beginning to see actual marine tech programs be developed, which is very exciting as the next step. But right now, you know, if your child is, you know, [00:09:30] is coming out of high school, is coming out of a certificate or BOCES program, it may be one of the things you want to think about to say, hey, as you're starting your career have you thought about looking at something within the marine industry and, you know, being on the water or, you know, selling boats and servicing boats and working at the boat shows and, you know, working with the customers and boaters because, you know, you're going to be you're going to be the ones going to help that boat get back on the water, you know, kind of thing. So it's just a great opportunity. But also there is a mindset we have to work with folks that this is a true industry [00:10:00] and these are really good quality, well-paying benefit jobs.

Speaker2: [00:10:04] And I would think it's an industry that is also changing because of technology. I mean, as you mentioned, you know, internal combustion, everyone now looking at renewable energy and the marine industry, I've got to think same way.

Speaker3: [00:10:26] I'm absolutely I mean, as I've gone around the state doing my Discover Clean [00:10:30] and Safe Boating program, including to several, you know, programs and activities in western New York, I have with me a propane engine. The engine actually runs on a propane cylinder and those engines are now being produced in the higher, you know, you know, division. They're going up to, you know, 35, 50, 75, 100 horsepower engines that you're, you know, powering by propane. We're seeing boats that now have solar panels on top of their cabin trying to take advantage of the solar. We're seeing electric [00:11:00] engines. You know, on one of my clean and safe boats, I had an electric engine. So all those things that we're seeing within, you know, the more traditional industries, if you will, be at the RV or be it the, you know, auto industry, those are definitely translating over to the boating industry. And we're really seeing a lot of fishermen think about the propane and the electric engines because, number one, they're very environmentally sound, they're very environmentally conscious, but also there's no noise. So, you know, you're out there [00:11:30] at 6:00 in the morning just as the sun's coming up and all you're hearing is the ripple of the water.

Speaker2: [00:11:35] Now, where can people get more information about these marine industry jobs?

Speaker3: [00:11:43] You know, I think for a lot of folks going to their you know, their their their site, their site of interest, if you will, for a job search. But also, these are smaller industries and they're focused industries. So, you know, I would actually stop down to a facility if you're interested in just chat with them, you know, ask [00:12:00] to talk to the sales or service manager and just say, hey, you know, this is what I've got. I'd be interested. Do you have any jobs? Because also it's probably going to be very localized for folks that, you know, oh, I want to be down on the Chautauqua Lake area or I want to be up in Lake Erie or I want to be on one of the tribes. So it's really an opportunity for folks to stop in and just start the conversation and see where it takes and leads you. And they'll be happy to talk to you because it is an industry they are very interested in, you know, helping develop that next generation of leaders of the industry [00:12:30] as well.

Speaker2: [00:12:30] One other question I wanted to ask you people might see these snowflakes in the air, but I'm sure boat owners should be making preparations now for the upcoming boating season, right?

Speaker3: [00:12:46] Well, absolutely. You know, Marine facilities are already launching boats. I mean, as soon as they have ice out, they have to start getting boats ready and getting them launched. So you need to communicate to your local marina if your boat is there to say, hey, I'd like to get my boat in. Get [00:13:00] me on the list. Because you have to remember, they have to take all of these boats, get them ready for the summer. Sometimes they're doing an oil change, they're doing other things. So, you know, it's not like, you know, everybody makes a call and all 100 boats in the facility are in in the next three days. It takes a period of time and they try to get those that want to be in the water early, you know, to get out fishing to take advantage of the upcoming walleye season. So, you know, they try to get the ones that need to be on the water sooner, but yeah, definitely get on their list. But also if you're, you know, if you need any repairs done to your trailer boat, now [00:13:30] is the time to get it. Because like other industries also, you know, they're going to you're going to go to your local Marine Dealer and there's going to be a sign in the window, you know, please be kind to our employees. We're trying to do the best with short staff, you know, so, you know, it's a double edged sword of trying to get people to come into the industry but like other businesses and industries, they're also short staffed. So now is the time to get on board, get that boat ready so that, you know, you've got it ready to go mechanically, but you've also got it ready to go safety wise. Make sure you've checked all your safety gear. Now's the time to be doing that because yes, as I [00:14:00] am looking out at 3 to now it’s 5 inches of snow in my yard, it's all going to be gone tomorrow and we're seeing boats launched on a daily basis.

Speaker2: [00:14:08] As we wrap up today's interview, Dave, how can people get more information about New York Sea Grant?

Speaker3: [00:14:17] They can check our website nyseagrant.org and if they want to learn more about the marine trade industry, they can just use their favorite search engine and type in Empire State Marine Trade Association, which is the [00:14:30] State Association over with seven regional associations, including the Western New York Boating Marine Trade Association. So those would be two great sites to go to to begin their search, get more information about it, and begin to become connected to the Marine trade industry.

Speaker2: [00:14:45] Well, Dave, thanks for joining us on our live line.

Speaker3: [00:14:49] Always great to be with you and have a great day. And I am looking forward to seeing green grass tomorrow.

Speaker2: [00:14:53] You bet.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

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